Saturday, December 31, 2016

December Wrap-Up

I meant to do all kinds of posts in December; recipes, Christmas, etc., but the month just got away from me.  So I’m making up for it with one incredibly long post.

December was busy, and had a lot of ups and downs for us.  I’ll go ahead and start with the bad stuff first, so I can end this post with the good stuff:

On December 7th we lost a very good friend, Martha.  She was 75, an incredible person, and died suddenly of a stroke.  I’m going to write more about her at some point, because she was such a wonderful person, but I just can’t right now.  I know that I’ll cry when I do, and I have a really bad cold right now.  Breathing is hard enough right now without crying.

The next afternoon at work, two of the security officers came in to tell me my car had been hit in the parking lot, and that I needed to go outside for the report.  The person who hit my car left without notifying anyone.  Fortunately, we share a parking lot with the Sheriff’s Office, and a deputy happened to be looking out the window when it happened.  He took some great pictures of her looking around to see if anyone saw, and then driving away.  Once her insurance company saw the pictures there was no question of them paying for the repairs.

We took the car to the same place that did the repair after we were rear-ended in August.  They did such a good job then that even the most obsessive car guys we know were impressed.  They weren’t able to get it in until after Christmas, but we were okay with that since the car was okay to drive.  We dropped it off on the 27th and picked it up on the 30th, and it looks great.

Now on to some happier December happenings:

I did a lot of baking for various people. This year it was mostly pound cakes, apple cake, cherry crunch, and some banana pound cake.  I took desserts to various departments at work, including the security officers, the volunteers, and the janitorial people.  This year I added in the maintenance people as well.  We moved offices earlier in the year, and they were incredibly nice during and leading up to the move.  Our new office is also much closer to their main work area in the building, so I see them a lot.  That’s pretty much how I determine which departments to take Christmas goodies to; the people I see and interact on a daily (or near daily) basis.

We also have a water cooler now that we’re in the new office.  The deliveryman, Joe, is really nice, and we also chat for a few minutes, so I made him some Christmas goodies as well.  He seemed really surprised, but said he really liked them the next time he came.

I love it when people are pleasantly surprised to get their Christmas goodies, and when they seem to genuinely enjoy them.

I also baked for our vet’s office, acupuncturist, chiropractor’s office, reflexologist, and the lady who cuts our hair.  

We were planning to do dinner for our next door neighbors, but ended up rescheduling since we were at a funeral that weekend instead.  I think we’re going to try for sometime next week (once my cold is gone), and call it a New Year thing instead.

My aunt, uncle, and sister came for dinner the weekend before Christmas.  I made two giant trays of lasagna, Greek Salad, garlic bread, apple cake, and brownies for that.   We hadn’t seen my aunt and uncle since the summer, so it was great to see them and catch up.  I also took the opportunity to send lots of presents home with Gabrielle since Christmas was at her house this year.

I ended up not taking anything to the hospice house here for Christmas.  I feel kind of bad about that, but things just got really crazy in the days leading up to Christmas.  My parents’ 17 year old cat, Yum Yum, got really sick, and everyone was really afraid it was going to be time to ay goodbye to her, but she made an amazing recovery.

They ended up bringing her to the vet here that we take the cats to.  They live about an hour and 15 minutes away, but that’s just how it worked out.  Let’s just say that my mom thrives on drama, and my dad isn’t a decision maker.  I ended up making the appointment and helping get her back and forth to the vet.

Yum Yum had a major impaction that took three days of treatment and lots of medication to remove. She’ll most likely be on medication for the rest of her life, but is doing great now.  She’s eating, cuddling with the other cats, and even playing more than she has in a while.

It was very up and down with her for a while, so when the vet called with “wonderful news”, everyone was thrilled.  Yum Yum was the last patient they sent home before they closed for the holiday, so I think everyone was especially delighted to go into the Christmas break on a positive note.

Nick’s mom and step-dad came into town the Wednesday before Christmas.  Thursday they came over and installed one of Nick’s birthday presents.  They got him a new mailbox (it’s huge and really nice, so much better than the old one that seemed like it was going to fall over any day) with a firefighter topper.  His dad came over with tools and to help install it.  They managed to pull it off as a complete surprise to him.  He had no idea until he came home from work that night and saw it.  He absolutely loves it.

On Christmas Eve (also Nick’s birthday) Nick and I, along with his mom and step-dad headed to my sister’s house in Greensboro.  She just moved, and insisted that Christmas be at her house this year since she has enough room now, and had never done the big Christmas before.

We brought the dogs and Joey with us since he’s on daily medication.  He rode with Nick’s mom and step-dad, rather than with us and the dogs.  We also had what felt like a million presents between the two cars.

I like to use weird boxes to disguise things when I wrap presents.  Normally that’s not a problem, but it can complicate things when you have to pack them all in the car.  I was so glad we had sent so many presents back with Gabrielle the week before.  I don’t think we would have ever managed to get everything in the car otherwise.

Gabrielle cooked a ton of food, and we brought Nick’s birthday cake with us.  We celebrated Nick’s birthday that evening, and then stayed up until 2:00 in the morning to open Christmas presents.

It was the first time I had ever stayed up to open Christmas presents, and the biggest family Christmas Gabrielle and I had ever had, so it was a lot of fun.

Everyone seemed to have put a lot of thought and effort into the gifts they gave everyone.  There were a few big, wonderful surprises, and most of the gifts were something that at least one other person knew about, so there was a lot of excitement waiting for certain people to open certain things. Everyone’s reactions to their gifts was very gratifying too.  There wasn’t any fake enthusiasm.

I can finally say this, the earrings I got from Liz’s Etsy shop for Susan (Nick’s mom) were a big hit. She wore them pretty much the whole time after that.

We spent a very low key holiday, which I think was exactly what everyone wanted and needed.  No one even got out of their pajamas on Sunday.  Gabrielle made a few soups from The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook that were delicious.  I think I want to get a copy for the soups alone.                            
Later that evening  we burned 2016 calendars.  It was something we had decided on earlier since it has been such an awful year for all of us.  We all took turns feeding pages of 2016 calendars into the fireplace.  It felt good to watch the pages go up in smoke.

Nick came down with a cold on Monday, and was pretty miserable Tuesday and Wednesday.  I started coming down with it Thursday, and haven’t done much since then other than read, sleep, and sip tea.  I’m really hoping it goes away soon.  I don’t want to start the new year off sick!

So how about you?  How was your December?  How were your holiday celebrations?  I hope you all had a wonderful month, and were able to spend time with the people you love.